Tag Archives: Prayer


January 10th, 2022 By Adam Hamilton

In Luke 11, one of Jesus’s disciples approaches and makes a simple request: “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John [the Baptist] taught his disciples” (v. 1). In response, Jesus teaches the disciples what has become known as the Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer. No other prayer is more important to Christians than this prayer. It is the Lord’s prayer—the prayer he taught us to pray. There are a host of other prayers we overhear Jesus praying in the Gospels, and I’ll mention them below. But only with this prayer does Jesus say, “Pray like this.”

Each word is saturated with meaning, a meaning that we often miss when we pray it by rote as we gather in our churches for worship. Each of its six petitions (five given by the Lord, one added by the early church) reflects the major themes from Jesus’s life and ministry. The prayer is meant by Jesus to shape our lives and, through us, to shape and change the world.

Multiple Versions of the Lord’s Prayer?

There are three versions of the Lord’s Prayer that came to us from the earliest period of Christianity. We are most familiar with Matthew’s account, found in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:9-13). The English version of that prayer was influenced by William Tyndale’s 1525 translation, which in turn shaped the form of the prayer as it appeared in the sixteenth-century Book of Common Prayer and finally the King James Version of 1611. Tyndale’s version was modified slightly into the version most English-speaking Protestants and Catholics pray today. Let’s look at the King James Version side by side with a modern translation of Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer. Modern versions, in this case, the Common English Bible, are based upon more reliable Greek versions of Matthew’s Gospel than were available in 1611:

In addition to different versions of the Lord’s Prayer rendered by various English translations, we have a different version found in Luke’s account of the prayer. Here it is from the Common English Bible’s translation of Luke 11:2-4:

Father, uphold the holiness of your name. 
Bring in your kingdom. 
Give us the bread we need for today. 
Forgive us our sins, 
 for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us. 
And don’t lead us into temptation.

Notice that neither of these New Testament versions of the prayer, Matthew’s or Luke’s, includes the traditional closing doxology, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” 

There is a third version of the Lord’s Prayer that comes to us from the early church, in a document called The Didache or The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Gentiles. This is a fascinating document describing the practices of the early church that some scholars believe was written in the first century, and others the second century, offering guidance in the Christian life. In chapter 8 of The Didache we find Matthew’s version of the prayer quoted. 

Do not pray as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, pray thus: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, as in Heaven so also upon earth; give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors, and lead us not into trial, but deliver us from the Evil One, for thine is the power and the glory for ever.” Pray thus three times a day.

Note that this version included the doxology. Note, too, the closing words that are in bold, “Pray thus three times a day.” This is a remarkable testimony to the importance of the Lord’s Prayer for early Christians. 

Over the years this prayer has come to mean a great deal to me. I pray it with my church family every weekend in worship. I pray it and meditate upon its words in my morning walks. I pray it together with my seven-year-old granddaughter at bedtime when she spends the night. I’ve prayed it with broken people sitting in my office. I’ve prayed it at every wedding I’ve officiated. I pray it at every hospital call I make. I pray it with the dying, and with their friends and family at each funeral or memorial service.

I once visited a woman in hospice care. Helen hadn’t been responsive in hours. Her eyes were closed, her breathing had become more labored, and the hospice nurse said that the end was imminent. She had not spoken since the previous day. I pulled up a chair to the bed, gently took her hand in mine, spoke to her, and also to her family sitting around the room. I reminded her of Christ’s love and his promises. I read Scripture to her. And I told her how grateful I was to have been her pastor. I then took anointing oil and, with my thumb, made the sign of the cross upon her forehead, a reminder that she belonged to Christ. Finally, with each of her loved ones touching her, we prayed, giving thanks to God for Helen’s life and entrusting her to God’s care. At the end of this prayer, I said words I had spoken thousands of times before. “Now, let us join together in the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray saying,

Our Father, who art in heaven, 
   hallowed be thy name. 
Thy kingdom come, 
   thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 

And forgive us our trespasses, 
   as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us, not into temptation, 
   but deliver us from evil. 

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

As we concluded, one of her children spoke up and said, “Did you all see that?” Another replied, “Yes, I was watching her. She moved her lips, speaking the Lord’s Prayer with us.” It was a holy and beautiful moment. These were the last words Helen would attempt to speak before she passed a few minutes later. I’ve seen this happen again and again. (I’ll share another similar story later in the book.) Each time it happens, it reminds me of just how important this prayer is to so many. It is deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of most Christians.

A Prayer for When you feel Empty

Prayer for When You Feel Empty
By: Kristine Brown

“Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future.” – Psalm 16:5 HCSB

A dry, parched land stretched out before them. Hagar and her son Ishmael had used up the last of the water given to them by Abraham before he sent them away (Genesis 21:14). Discouragement saw opportunity and came calling. With no water in sight, Hagar knew they couldn’t survive. So she set Ishmael under a tree and walked away.

She couldn’t watch her only son suffer this way. No water, no future, no hope. The emptiness of the water skin reflected the emptiness of her spirit.

Uncertainty and emptiness often walk hand-in-hand. Our concern for the unknown causes us to try and fill our questioning hearts with answers. Find solutions. Because we long to fill the void with something that will satisfy. And the more we try in our own strength to fill the void, the emptier we become.

Only one thing will fill the emptiness when life’s battles leave us depleted.

“Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future.” Psalm 16:5 HCSB


Hagar had forgotten God’s promise to fill her cup with abundant blessings. Ishmael would have a future, greater than anything Hagar herself could’ve planned. But she needed to trust God to be the portion to fill the emptiness with the fullness of His presence. “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well full of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” (Genesis 21:19)

When we remember to turn our focus to our everlasting Father and seek Him as our portion, He supernaturally becomes whatever we need to fill that void. It may be strength to face another day, joy in a time of loss, or peace instead of panic. Whatever we need, God is the sustaining portion.

If you’ve forgotten to ask God to be your portion lately, take heart. Then take your uncertainty to Him. Let’s begin with this prayer, and find satisfaction as God fills our cup with blessings today.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your precious Word. Thank you for the encouragement it brings me in difficult times. Lord, I’ve been sensing a void lately that I can’t quite explain. It seems like I’m facing one thing after another, and when I look at my struggles I feel empty. Hopelessness and discouragement threaten me. Help me to remember that You are my portion. You fill my cup and are the only One who will satisfy my parched soul.

Help me hold onto this truth. Your Word says in Psalm 16:5, You hold my future. I can rest in knowing even in my uncertainty that You are in control, and You have good plans for me.

Psalm 73:26 assures me that You are “the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” When I’m tempted to search for temporary things to fill the void in my heart, help me recall this verse. You are my portion. Not only today, not only tomorrow. Forever.

I pray as You fill my cup to overflowing, I will discover the strength, joy, and peace that comes from You alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for the Day

Prayer for Our Minds
By: Kristine Brown

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2 NIV)

While tucking my young son into bed, he would sometimes tell me he couldn’t go to sleep because of scary thoughts. I always reassured him with lots of mom cuddles and this kid-friendly advice.

“Think about good things,” I’d say. Then we’d spend a few moments listing all the good things that came to mind. Our impromptu gratitude list would turn into a nighttime prayer, and I’d hope that the bad thoughts would stay away long enough for him to drift off to sleep.

As an adult, I can have the same struggle with thinking about good things.

If I let my guard down, my mind automatically wanders to the worries and frustrations of the day.

I begin listing all the things on my to-do list instead of the blessings from my heavenly Father. It takes intentional effort for me to redirect my mind.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to keep your mind focused on good things? Paul instructed believers with these words of hope. “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2 NIV) He knew how forceful the pull of worldly things could be. He wanted to equip Jesus’ followers with the truth. We need to daily set our minds on things above.

Keeping our thoughts centered around God’s goodness doesn’t come easily. So we shouldn’t get discouraged if our mind keeps wandering. Let’s pray this prayer for our minds as we say no to negative thoughts and redirect our minds on the good things of God.

mind on things above, inspirational image

Dear God,

I’ll admit that I have a hard time keeping my mind on good things. I start my day with prayer and gratitude, but then those thoughts fade as I face one frustrating situation after another. Forgive me for letting daily worries become a priority over your goodness in my life.

Lord, Your Word says that I “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10) I understand that my mind is renewed because I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. May the Holy Spirit cleanse my mind from anything unrighteous and help me focus on the things of heaven. When I set my mind on you, I find peace, rest, and new hope. I give you praise because “every good and perfect gift comes from you.” (James 1:17) Thank you for touching my mind and giving me good things to think about.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

How to Choose Joy on the Hard Days

Choosing Joy on the Hard Days
By: Maggie Meadows Cooper

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!” – Habakkuk 3:17-18 NLT

It is raining. Again. It feels like it’s been raining for ten years straight here in Alabama. And I’m so desperately craving sunshine and blue skies and big puffy white clouds. But that’s not all. There are just so many little things weighing on my heart. Areas where I feel like I’m failing. The little mundane things like my dirty house and piles of dishes and laundry. And “training my children in the way they should go” is just exhausting.

Many of these things aren’t big in the grand scheme of life. But they matter to me. And as I find myself in this place of just being ill and frustrated and blah today, I know that I have to find joy. I have to choose to find joy. Because my babies and others around me are watching.

A long time ago, I decided that I would praise the Lord in the good. And in the bad. As I read in Habakkuk today, I came across this beautiful reminder that he made the same choice long ago:

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!” 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 NLT

Wow. His list is tough. Really tough. Way more serious than my rainy days and disobedient kids and piles of dirty dishes. And still, in the midst of a situation that could be a matter of life and death, as his list came to an end, he said, “yet, I will rejoice in the Lord!”

Yet. Such power in three little letters. It means “but at the same time,” “nevertheless,” “in spite of that,” or “come what may.”

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, inspirational image

There are people struggling around us every day. Every day. And if they know that we know Jesus, we have to live out “sharing the reason for the hope that we have.” We have to truly find our joy in Him and model that “yet” in our own lives. For them.

We have to show them that because of Jesus, the hard things are not the end. And we can find joy in the middle of the yucky days. So, here are three ways to focus on creating our own “yet” when those tough times come:

1. Put things in perspective.

I am a firm believer in fill-in-the-blanks from the Word, and this is a perfect example. Grab a scrap piece of paper and write this out:

Even though___________________ and _______________________; even though ________________________ and ___________________; even though ___________________________ and _________________________; YET I will rejoice in the Lord!

It’s funny how when things are written out, they take on new meaning. And create new perspective. Somehow when we see things in text, it isn’t near as bad as the lies Satan is whispering in our ears. Those whispers that make our thoughts get out of control and dwelling on wild scenarios and what-ifs that, most likely, would never happen. So, the next time your day is falling apart, try this and then show those around you how to try it too.

2. Remember that the Lord is already there.

I think we forget that God goes before us… and comes behind us… every moment of every day. When we recognize and make a point to acknowledge that everything begins and ends with Him, it’s so much easier to find the joy and peace we long for. Here are two verses I love that remind me that I can praise Him, trust Him, and find joy, “even though” there are hard things because I know He’s already there.

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT

“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5 NIV

3. Set your eyes on what matters most. 

If you were to visit my kitchen, stuck in the corner of a framed family picture, you would find a wrinkled square of a paper that says, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2

I keep it there as a daily reminder that all of my “even though’s” and “and’s” are just temporary. They won’t last, y’all. One of my favorite church signs I passed years ago said, “Trouble don’t last always.” And it doesn’t. It won’t. Because Jesus is coming one day. And all of the hurts and frustrations and annoyances we feel now are just of this earth.

Keep your focus on Jesus and the things that are eternal. And talk about those things… the things of most value… with those around you. Remind them that we can rejoice after bad days at work, health issues, and loss, not because those things aren’t hard. Not because those things don’t hurt. But because our joy doesn’t come from this world.

Put things in perspective.

Remember that you are never alone.

Set your eyes on things above.

And share the reason for the hope that you have.

I pray you all find joy in the hard things today and always.

31 Days of Bible Prayers

How to guide and enrich your daily time with God

by Bob HostetlerPosted in Bible Resources, Jul 19, 2021

31 days of prayer

One of my favorite ways to pray is to follow a 31-day plan that gives my prayers more purpose and focus. For example, I’ve long prayed 31 biblical virtues for my children (and now my grandchildren) that developed into a prayer resource and even an iPhone/iPad app called “31 Ways to Pray for Your Kids.”

Another favorite way to pray is to use prayers from the Bible, repeating God’s Word back to Him in praise, petition and thanks. 

So, here’s a fairly new list that combines both of those approaches with 31 days of Bible prayers:

  1. God, have mercy on me, a sinner (Luke 8:13 NIV).
  2. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).
  3. Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise (Jeremiah 17:14, NIV).
  4. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life (Psalm 51:10, The Message).
  5. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long (Psalm 21:5, NIV).
  6. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 17:8, NIV).
  7. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139:14, NIV).
  8. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13, ESV).
  9. Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain (1 Chronicles 4:10, NIV).
  10. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2, NIV).
  11. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations (Psalm 67:1-2, NIV).
  12. You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high (Psalm 3:3, NIV).
  13. Keep me safe, my God, for in You I take refuge (Psalm 16:1, NIV).
  14. Let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor (Exodus 33:13, NLT).
  15. Not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42, NIV).
  16. I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds (Psalm 9:1, NIV).
  17. You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7, NIV).
  18. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me (Psalm 19:13, NIV).
  19. May the God of hope fill [me] with all joy and peace as [I] trust in him, so that [I] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13, NIV).
  20. You have helped me, and I sing happy songs in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 63:7, CEV).
  21. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you (Psalm 51:12, NLT).
  22. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:30, NLT).
  23. May your blessing be on your people (Psalm 3:8, NIV).
  24. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation (Psalm 118:21, NIV).
  25. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you (Psalm 25:21, NIV).
  26. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14, NKJV).
  27. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act! (Daniel 9:19, NLT).
  28. Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble (Psalm 119:165, NIV).
  29. O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches (Psalm 104:24, KJV).
  30. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4, NIV).
  31. We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign (Revelation 11:17, NIV).

Let these prayers guide and enrich your daily time with God; you may find the Holy Spirit bringing these to your mind often—sometimes at the most crucial moments.


Do You Pray?

By Kelly Givens–

Editor’s Note: The following devotional is based on J.C. Ryle’s A Call to Prayer (Banner of Truth, 2002).

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Luke 11:9, NIV

Do you pray? In J.C. Ryle’s small but important book, A Call to Prayer, he challenges readers with this simple question. Ryle asserts “there is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer.” I’m sure many of us would agree; of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer is often the hardest habit to form and one that is most quickly broken. However, we should strive to pray often, because prayer is an incredibly important element of our faith.

“there is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer.”

J.C. Ryle

Here are a few reasons Ryle gives for why prayer is so important:

1. A habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian. The greatest heroes and heroines of the Bible often shared a similar attribute- they were men and women of prayer. To take your frustrations, challenges, joys, hopes and dreams to God on a regular basis requires a great deal of faith – you are essentially relinquishing control and telling God, “I trust you will work on my behalf in this situation.” Do you have this kind of faith? Do you pray?

2. A habit of prayer brings great encouragement to the one who prays. In the Bible, we see that prayer moved God to raise the dead, heal the sick, save souls, draw water from a rock and send bread from heaven. Prayer even made the sun stand still! The fact that prayer moves God to action should be a great encouragement to us. Are you encouraged by God’s provision and power? Do you pray?

3. A habit of prayer creates holy men and women. The more we seek God out in prayer, the more our hearts are aligned with what God desires for us and we become holier men and women in the process. Are you growing closer to God? Do you pray?

4. If we do not pray, we run the risk of backsliding in our faith. Let’s be clear – Ryle doesn’t mean we should fear losing our salvation. However, without prayer we run the risk of becoming stagnate in our faith, if not falling back into sinful habits and temptations we had once overcome through prayer. When a relationship turns sour, often a main cause is poor communication. So too with us and God. Do you feel stagnate in your faith or distant from God? Do you pray?

5. A habit of prayer brings peace and contentment. We live in a sin-filled world. Sorrows and troubles abound. So how do we combat sadness, disappointments, fears, slanders, and hurt? When we cry out to our Father, he offers us peace that transcends our understanding. This is one of the richest blessings of our faith. Are you experiencing this blessing? Do you pray?

Intersecting Faith and Life:  Ryle says, “In every journey, there must be a first step.” If you desire to become a more prayerful person, take time today and go somewhere quiet, shut the door and pray aloud that God would give you the grace and strength you need to develop a habit of prayer. Then be encouraged- God greatly desires you to be in regular prayer with him- if we ask, seek and knock, he will open the door for us to a richer prayer life.

When Your Spirit Starts to Fade By: Maggie Meadows Cooper

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.”  – Isaiah 40:8

Last summer my family went and picked up leftover pieces of sod for our backyard from a local sod farm. We put the pieces together like a puzzle: a little brown, a little yellow, and some bright green mixed in for good measure. And as I sat admiring our work, the Lord showed me something.

Each of those grass squares, when cut off from their lifeline-roots and water, are left to die in the scorching heat. Some of the pieces that had just been cut were still green and damp. Those cut a little earlier were yellowing and dry, and those cut the longest ago were brown and brittle. The ladies at the farm assured me that the yellow pieces could be brought back to life with water and care…that their roots would grow and bring vibrant life back to them. And, y’all, as I thought about it, I realized that I have felt like one of those yellowing pieces recently.

This is so like our walk with the Lord. When we are rooted and grounded in the Word, spending quality time in fellowship and prayer, we are filled with Living Water, green and bright and vibrant. And even if we pull up roots for a time…we can stay green and full for a little while…we can fake it ‘til we make it. But the longer we are away from the Word, we start to yellow a little. We begin to fade in areas, maybe, where others can’t see, but we can behind closed doors. Our joy, our peace, our love, our kindness and gentleness… even our faith can start to fade.

But here’s the beauty…we can get all of that bright vibrant joyful, hope-filled abundance back, y’all! We just have to take care with what we sow. We have to grow our roots down deep by sticking close to those who are close to the Lord, who will speak truth and lift us up and away from the things of this world! We need to drink up the Living Water and not hold back. We need to be patient in the waiting of reaping a harvest. We can’t give up, no matter what this world or the people of it throw at us.

I share this for all of you who may be in this place. You may have been cut off…you may not be full. You may be in a really dry, hard place. But I am here to tell you that the Lord is there with you, urging you to come back to Him and let Him be your fulfillment in this world. He sees you and knows right where you are. Look for Him and He will be there. If you are green and bright and in an amazing place with the Lord right now, come alongside your friends and offer His love and comfort and encouragement for those who need it, because one day you may need them to return the favor.

Check in on your people. Pray for the Lord to give you wisdom and discernment for those who may be fading right before your eyes. Dig in the Word. And drink up the Living Water that only He can give.

“I rejoice in your Word like one who discovers a great treasure.” – Psalm 119:162

Dear Lord,

Forgive me for wandering from you and your Word. Draw me back to you and the Life that only you can give. Help me to resist the things of this world and keep my focus on you alone.

In Your Mighty Name,